Sunburned: 1971 Mercury Capri GT

1971 Mercury Capri GT

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I blame Jesse for turning my mind back to British Fords with his recent post about the budget-friendly Ford Fiestas that were very briefly up for grabs. It reminded me of a salvage yard near me that has lots of interesting old sheet metal rusting away, with a bright-green Fiesta and a yellow Mercury Capri sitting kitty-corner to one another. While it certainly looks like the pair may have entered the yard together, the Fiesta is returning to the earth much more quickly. Hopefully, this 1971 Mercury Capri here on eBay finds a new owner who can sort the necessary mechanical issues to get it back on the road before it, too, returns to dust; there’s no reserve and bidding is only at $1,700.

1971 Mercury Capri GT Interior

Over the last few decades, Ford’s efforts at bringing its high performance European models stateside have had fits and starts, only hitting its stride recently with impressive performers like the Fiesta and Focus STs. There’s even a Focus RS with all-wheel drive headed this way soon, a testament to the popularity of its global products. It wasn’t always that way, though, with failed experiments like the Merkur Scorpio standing as stark reminders that you can’t put just anything in front of American consumers – they need a reason to buy. And given its record as one of the most popular import cars of its era, the original Mercury Capri showed that Ford’s overseas products could find favor with U.S customers.

1971 Mercury Capri GT Engine

Though this Capri was originally equipped with a somewhat diminutive four-cylinder, the previous owner of this project swapped in a six-cylinder from a later model, possibly the 2.6L Cologne V6. Regardless, the car is currently not running but would definitely be a fair bit sprightlier with the larger powerplant installed. Obviously, the next owner will have their work cut out for them in determining just how far the restoration went and what loose ends need to be tied up. Thankfully, it slumbered in sunny and dry Arizona which has contained most of the rust to just surface spaces, making this project seem a little less overwhelming if corrosion repair isn’t in the equation.

Mercury Capri GT

Another challenge for the next caretaker of this particular Capri is the condition of the interior. It’s quite rough, and I’m not certain how easily new buckets, door cards and carpets can be secured. But organizations like Capri Club North America can help connect enthusiasts with other Capri fans, who may have the parts stashed away to help complete this car’s restoration. Despite being quite popular, parts sleuthing is not an easily-tackled task for cars like this, as the likelihood of finding one in a salvage yard fades with each passing day. At least on this example, sheet metal repairs will be held to a minimum, leaving more time to hunt for some new bucket seats and door panels. Did any of you drive a Capri in the 70s? Would you take this one home? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Leon P

    What are the vents for under the back window ?

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  2. Ian

    Vents are for the Ford ‘thru flow ‘ ventilation current at the time
    As a (same car) Capri owner of 20 yrs standing now (2 ltr S) have to say this is mega. Parts are relatively easy here in the UK and a rustfree shell is almost worth the money I was at Hidden Valley autos yard outside of Phoenix some years backand there was a row of them there…mouthwatering and very desirable even then. Check for UK prices on these Mk1 Capris

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  3. Clark

    Don’t remember the year, but my dad needed a work car to replace his 1967 VW Bug. Talked him into a Capri, but wouldn’t go for the V6, stuck with the 4 cyl. It was a great car and loved it. I have many fond memories of borrowing it for dates. Would I want one now – certainly consider it. Would I want this one – way to much work to reignite those fond memories. Pass.

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  4. Andrew Minney

    Mercury??? It’s a blooming Ford Capri, Essex man’s Ford Mustang.

    Actually not bad cars and there were some good versions

    Twickenham, England

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    • David

      It was a Mercury in the U.S. my friend. Since Ford owned Mercury and Ford, they could market the car under any brand they wanted to. Mercury, at the time had no entry level sports or sporty car and so needed a car like the Capri. Ford had the Mustang. Later the Mustang was also produced and sold under the Capri name at Mercury dealers with small changes.

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    • RickyM

      A difference was that the Mercury bonnets (hood) had CAPRI lettering whereas the English and European cars had FORD lettering. Great cars, and this would go for a big price over here in England, even with this interior and sunburned paintwork.

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  5. the chucker

    I had a buddy in high school (early 80’s) who had one of these. As I recall, it was a very capable performer albeit somewhat underpowered. His was a deep green with dark gray wheels which I always found to be a stunning combination. As Jeff mentions, sourcing factory parts could prove to be daunting, but since this one’s been subjected to a heart transplant already, I’m thinking a 5.0/5 speed swap would be loads of fun.

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  6. David

    In 1974 I took all the money I had saved ($3,500) up during my Navy hitch and purchased a tan colored 2 ltr. Capri with no options on it. It drove it for the next 14 years and 130K miles with no troubles at all. It was a great fun to drive and I thought it looked better than most cars that you could buy new at that time for the money. My time with my Capri ended when I was rear ended by some illegal mexicans on a California freeway when it was totaled. I was sad to see it go. I think there was a chance I would still have it if the accident hadn’t happened. It handled good, it was fun to drive, reliable, and great looking little first car.

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  7. Fred

    I saw these all the time in their day. Now I don’t think I’ve seen one in the flesh for 20 years or so. Where did they all go?

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  8. Jamie Palmer JamieStaff

    These folks will help you with parts; they’ve been around for a long time…I’ve heard good things over the years although I’ve never dealt with them myself.

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  9. JW454

    I worked for a Lincoln/Mercury dealer in the spring of ’73 when these were selling new. The only two issues I recall was that the batteries leaked causing premature rust around the battery tray and some type of electrical problem caused by the battery acid. Otherwise, they were fun to drive and the V6 version would really scoot along.

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  10. MikeH

    I bought a ’77 2.8L V6 new–loved it. I can’t remember whether it was a 4 or a 5 speed, but it was really quick. I would probably still have it but it was lost in a divorce.

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  11. sir mike

    does the ginger come with the car??

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  12. John

    Always liked these little cars. My sister and her husband had one close to this vintage in 1973. Good little car, except the rear wing windows had a nasty little habit of detaching themselves from the car. At speed…

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  13. John

    Just read the eBay ad and the seller mentions that the rear wing windows will fall off if opened. Must have been a design feature.

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  14. z1rider

    That is NOT factory air. In fact I doubt the first generation Capri’s ever had factory air. I know the AC in the 73 v-6 Capri my brother had was an add-on system.

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  15. Paul

    i had a 1600 Capri for a year or so. Learned to drive a 4speed on it. Blew up one transmission on it and the the junk yard replacement died as well. Replaced that with an Opel Manta. Both fun cars but I liked the Manta more.

    Then I got convertible fever and the Manta went and the MGB came.

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  16. Don Murphy

    I still drive a 73 with a 2.6 every day weather permitting.And another waiting for warmer weather to receive 302 transplant. Great cars.

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  17. Kevin

    I had one when stationed in Germany. Not a bad car at all. Always loved the body style. Ford made the Capri into the mid 1980’s. Some of those last year cars were very sporty, especially if they were decked out with the ground effects.

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  18. pursang

    High school, 1973 or 1974 or so. Warm sunny day in spring. Waiting at the bus stop to go to school, sophomore year. Hear a car ripping through the gears. Around the corner comes one of the seniors, Lazlo, I think his name was. Pulls up to the stop sign at the bus stop in a new dark forest green metallic Capri with tan bucket seats. Cute girl (friend? sister?) in the passenger seat. Looks over for a moment at the freshman and sophomores waiting for the bus, sun reflecting off of the car and his Raybans, just a hint of superiority or distain on his face, or maybe just the shit eating grin of a guy having fun with a great car. We just stare back. Revs the motor, dumps the clutch and takes off towards school. I remember every detail of that moment like it was yesterday, and this article just brought it back again on this frigid 10 degree morning……

    Rumor had it that Lazlo rolled the Capri a few weeks later and walked away, unharmed.

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  19. Gary

    This was a car that had some good looks for the time, but not something I would want in my driveway. I liked the Ford Mustang better and would be a player for another of these like the ’66 coupe I had in the late 70’s
    In the mid 80’s a next door neighbor had a Capri, don’t remember the year or drive train it had, but he spent a lot of time wrenching on it and I recall one time the driver side quarter window fell out of the car while sitting on the driveway. Maybe just good ole European Ford QC?

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  20. DT

    Sunburned,beat up,worn out, dried up,blemished,tore up,rode hard,used up,bored out,stinky,hi mileage,

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    • Frank

      In the late 70’s, I had a 72 ( I think) bronze-like Capri. Both rear quarter windows flew off the car at high speeds. One of course shattered but one slid along the highway (going to Jones Beach, LI NY) for I’d say 75 yards and I retrieved it with barely a scratch on it. (Shattered some time later)
      Glued instead of bolted at factory!

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  21. St. Ramone de V8

    These things were really popular here in Canada back then. Like the early chrome bumpers, of course. The V6 cars blasted around pretty well. The next generation were sold here as Capri II. Mercurys. Still a nice car. When I was in Britian in 1983, I saw them as 3000 GT , I think. Hot looking cars. We never got those, but I got a ride in one then, and I wanted to bring one back! I would think sourcing parts for these would be easy pretty much anywhere. Don’t know if a V8 swap would be sensible, but if so, I’d like to see the result.

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  22. Mustang Marty

    I had a couple of the later hatchback Capri (76-78) in the late 80’s. One was a gold V6 and the other was a blue 2.3 4cyl. I installed on of those carbureted 2.3 turbos from a 80 Mustang in to the blue one and it was a blast to drive. One thing I was surprised about these cars was the fact that the front fenders were spot welded to the chassis. Not something that is common in the USA

    I still have a soft spot for them

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  23. zero250 jeff s

    My father bought a brown 1971 Capri in 1974……….2300cc engine and stick-shift transmission………Basic transportation and 31 or 32 MPG gas mileage……..great car, but it rusted to pieces here in West Virginia……..

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  24. Mark-A

    This takes me back to my First Car back in 1995/96 I had a 1.6L Cabaret Ltd Edition with Slide/Tilt Metal Roof & the 7×13 rims from the later 2.8injection Special! These things rust like nothing on earth, personally I’d HAVE to check the Rear Spring Hangers as I remember having to plate mine & also the top of the Front Struts! Car just looked really good with the Zender Stripes & Wider Rims especially since it was Bright Red! Engine could be an Essex 3.0 Ltr V6 from a Mk1 Capri 3000XL or similar these can be tuned well into 3.4Ltrs with a 6pack of Weber 40mm Carbs.

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  25. Lauri Lind

    I’ve had 3 Capris but i’m in Europe , a 1970 1600 GT, a 1971 3000 GT and my current 1975 3000 Ghia, sadly the 3.0 engine was not available in the US,

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  26. Mike

    My first car right out of high school. Bought it new off the dealers lot for $2,300.I have to say it was the best car I had ever owned,do miss it,been looking to replase it for twenty years now, just can’t find the right car.

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  27. Michael Hogan

    My first car was a new 1071 Capri with the 2000cc engine. To this day it was the best car I have ever owned,and I have had many. I wish I could find one today.

    Like 1
  28. Art

    Had a 1971 capri 4 cyl you couldn’t kill this car. Miss it till this day.

    Like 0

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